Ouch! Been a while I wrote a blogpost. I was busy rounding up and putting final touches to my MSc dissertation – That thing almost took my life! But am back, stronger, wiser and of course more handsome! 🙂 Okay! back to business. As a business owner, it is quite important and interesting to understand and know what your customers are thinking about or their behaviour when in the process of buying your product or service. This in other words is called Customer Life Cycle.
Customer life cycle describes the customer journey and progression of steps a customer (your customer) goes through when contemplating, purchasing, making use of, and maintaining loyalty to a product or service (preferably yours).
There are 4 stages in the customer life cycle and at each stage, the customer asks different questions. Smart business owners have the answers to those questions in their product offering and below I provide THE SAUCE for each stage and questions posed by your customers.
1. Requirements Stage.
At this first and crucial stage which I like to call the “love at first sight stage”. The customer is trying to know more about the product, what it does, do they actually need it or just want it, and if they do, how many do they need. Basically, your product offering needs to make them see why they need the product or service. In relationship terms – they need to make a conscious decision to consider a date based on the first impression.
Questions Johny Asks: What is it? Do I need One? Which One? How many? Questions like this comes when the customer is in contact with your provision or offering for the first time.
The Sauce: Provide enough information about the product offering. There is no point holding back information, for me, I believe there is no such thing as too much information. The modern day customer is nosy, they want to know everything before committing. They are like a girl coming out of a bad relationship.
Please, do you product a favour by providing as much information as you can, the product offering should explicitly, in my opinion, provide information about the need the product or service will meet or meets.
2. Acquisition Stage.
At this stage, the customer is contemplating whether to buy or not. And questions relating to how the product or service can be acquired and the price comes to mind.
Questions Sarah Ask. Where do I get it? How much is it? Delivered When? Questions like these comes when the customer has come in contact with a marketing material from your business (flyer, online or offline ads, your website or word of mouth)
The Sauce. Provide explicit details on how the product can be acquired, do they have to come to your store to buy it or they can checkout on your online store? and how much is it going to cost? These details should be explicitly stated. I see ads at the train station everyday and I clearly do not see prices on most of the ads. As a customer, I really want to know how much something costs before I can consider acquiring it or not.
Well, it can also the argued that not all ads need to have explicit prices on them but heck! am just being a customer! I need to know how much back this thing will set me. And I need to know how soon it can be delivered to me as well. Do I have to wait days for it to come or its next day delivery.
3. Ownership Stage.
At this stage, the customer is thinking – Okay! Lets assume I have the product or service. Will I be able to use it immediately or I would have to get help from a third party or even worse, read those things provided with a product also called Owner’s manual? (wait! do people read those things at all? – I don’t)
Questions Ben Asks: How do I use it? How do I fix it?
The Sauce: In your product offering, just like the other sauces above. Its all about providing information! Information on how the customer will interact with the product is quite important to them to know and if there are any issues or concerns with the product, how easy is it for the customer to get in touch with your business.
Or once Ben buys your product does your company suddenly develop super powers and disappear? Thats a no no! I bought a new office chair for my apartment about a month ago, and to be fair, asides looking at the colour (I wanted a green chair because am Nigerian, lol) , I was looking at the description provided by the seller on how to assemble the chair (how to use it) and if I cannot assemble it properly, is there a provision on how that can be solved?
oh! Remember how I said in the requirement stage above, the customer needs to know how much the product will cost? Yeah! He now wants to buy and needs to know how much your product will set him back and also if there is a better version of your product or service.
Questions Alexis Asks: How much am I spending? Is there a new one? How do I return it?
The Sauce: These days, before I buy anything, am always trying to know how easy it is to return it. Lets face it, i’m a savage, so are your customers. We don’t necessarily want to just buy and return your product. We want to know if the product isn’t as described, there is a provision on how we can return it without having to loose our minds. But that is not all we are trying to do at the retirement stage though, this stage, customer loyalty can also be built.
Basically, your product or service offering should answer Alexis’ questions above and we will all win! Hey! I hope this piece was good and there is something you can pick out of it. I would love to hear your thoughts or criticism on any of the stages. Did I hit it right or I missed?